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Coach Jones Has Been Here Before

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Is Butch Jones going to be successful at Cincinnati?

 

I don't know yet.  And either do you.

 

But I would hope that people don't ignore what he accomplished in three years at Central Michigan after three games at UC.

 

I'll admit it - I expected the Bearcats to be one of the best offensive teams in the Big East this year.  Since Coach Jones and Brian Kelly both run no-huddle, spread offenses, I thought the transition to a new coaching staff would be seamless and expected "Collaros and Company" to light up the scoreboard right away.

 

That hasn't happened, and it was probably unrealistic to expect.

 

"I think we have some good players on offense, but it's still a different team," senior center Jason Kelce told me after the NC State loss.  "It's a different coaching staff and a different team and we're still not clicking on all cylinders like we were last year.  It's a long season and we're going to get this corrected."

 

The problems begin on the offensive line where the Bearcats only have one player (right guard Alex Hoffman) starting in the same spot as last season.  After UC allowed eight sacks in the opener at Fresno State, the 'Cats made a change in the starting lineup as Randy Martinez replaced Evan Davis at left guard.  Last night, UC tried sophomore Sean Hooey at right tackle in place of senior C.J. Cobb for a few plays in the second half.

 

NC State was in attack mode on defense all night, blitzing at least one extra pass rusher on nearly every snap.  Collaros was sacked five times, including three times in a seven-play stretch.         

 

"They like to bring a lot of guys and play Cover 3 behind the fire zone," Kelce said.  "We knew that coming into the game and just shot ourselves in the foot a little bit too much.  It's very disappointing."

 

The flipside of facing teams that frequently blitz is that it creates the opportunity for big plays.  When Collaros had time to throw, he completed four passes of 20-or-more yards, although three came in the 4th quarter.

 

"We knew what they were going to do," Collaros told me.  "They brought a lot of pressure and deserve credit for playing well, but we didn't execute.  I take my hat off to them, but we can play a lot better than this." 

 

They are going to have to.

 

Losing on the road at Fresno State and NC State should not be shocking - the Bearcats were underdogs in both games.  But to see them fall behind by at least two touchdowns in each of those games is disconcerting.

 

"We really don't have any excuses," said junior linebacker J.K. Schaffer after making a career-high 16 tackles against the Wolfpack.  "We still have a lot of football left and can still put together a really good season.  I'm still looking forward to it."

 

"We have to fight through it," said junior defensive tackle John Hughes.  "We've got to put this behind us, because you can't play this game over again."

 

"It's really going to test our character and our togetherness as a team and a football family," said Collaros.  "We're really going to see what we're made of over the next couple of weeks."

 

Here's a little history to consider.

 

When Butch Jones replaced Brian Kelly at Central Michigan in 2007, the Chippewas opened the season 1-3 and averaged 14.3 points in the three losses.

 

Over the next 10 games, Central Michigan went 7-3 by averaging 39.2 points and won a MAC Championship.

 

Butch Jones was able to make the necessary adjustments and his players responded.

 

Let's see if he -and they - can do it again.

 

I'd love to hear from you.  Please take a moment to tell me who you are and where you're from in the comments section or you can e-mail me at dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

 

 

 

 

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